Color Out of Space

color_out_of_space_ver2STARS2.5When Nicolas Cage goes “Full Cage” it gives me comfort in times like these.  All U.S. theaters have been ordered to close for an indefinite period in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Hollywood production (as is much of the rest of the world) is currently halted to slow the spread of the virus.  There won’t be any new movies playing in cinemas for a while.  This is unchartered territory.  How long this can last is anyone’s guess.  Yet I will persist.  This won’t deter me from writing.  As long as DVD & streaming still exists, I will review new releases on that platform.  Color Out of Space opened to a mere 81 theaters back on January 24, 2020, in the U.S.  Needless to say few people (including me) had the ability to see it — even if they wanted to.  It was subsequently released to VOD, Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray on February 25th.

I was primed to enjoy this production.  Color Out of Space is science fiction fueled horror from Richard Stanley, the director infamously fired from The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996).  That might be a cause for concern.  On the plus side, this was produced by the same people who brought us the bizarre 2018 action horror film, MandyMandy was directed by Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)).  Now I’m not saying Mandy was great art, mind you, but it presented a bizarro appeal that I found amusing.  It’s was unique and that’s saying something in an age of reboots and sequels.  That cast featured Nicolas Cage in a wild acting display that added to its eccentricities.  He’s starring in this too and I can say his presence definitely adds to the strangeness.  The actor has been cultivating an offbeat persona ever since he starred in Valley Girl way back in 1983.  Anyone familiar with the actor’s work knows he chooses projects where he can bring an air of eccentricity.  This feature is no different in that respect and I can appreciate that.  In fact, there are a lot of similarities between the two films.  Nevertheless, where the quirks seemed to make sense in the former, it doesn’t serve much purpose here.

From a narrative standpoint, Color Out of Space is a fairly simple tale based on a short story by H. P. Lovecraft.  If you’re acquainted with that author, you know he can be a bit odd.  The text is significantly more scientifically detailed than what we observe onscreen.  The adaptation doesn’t have that much of a plot.  A meteorite plummets to Earth in a dazzling blaze of purple-pink hues and lands in their yard on a remote New England property.  Things get decidedly weirder from there.  Actually, I’m making the adventure seems like more than it is.  Meteor lands.  Mayhem ensues.  That’s it.  But there are some captivating special effects and an interesting visual style.  At one point, a large multi-eyed creature that resembles a praying mantis crawls out of the well. It’s a creepy moment.

Nicolas Cage gives another gonzo performance.  It takes a certain suspension of disbelief.  He plays a father married to his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) with three kids Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), Benny (Brendan Meyer) and Jack (Julian Hilliard).  They’re all living on a rural farm.  They also care for a herd of animals which allows Cage to say, and I quote “Now if you don’t mind, it’s time we milk the alpacas!”  The actor gets a lot of campy lines.  Another “delightful” exchange with his beloved daughter has him screaming at her to “Get the f— out of my sight, okay?”  Then he reconsiders and says “No, actually, I’ll save you the trouble and get the f— out of yours!”  He constantly reprimands his wife and kids with an exasperation that borders on comic relief.

This is not for people who idolize the work of H.P. Lovecraft.  It’s more like a springboard to create random vignettes.  Nonetheless, audiences who revel in Nicolas Cage doing his uniquely deranged schtick will find much to savor here.  The silliness doesn’t stop with the dialogue.  Another episode features mom making dinner.  While cutting carrots, she chops her own fingers instead of the vegetables.  I can’t even do the scene justice but everything is done for comedic effect.  The story is one big joke.  I admire this film for its silly sensibility and creative aesthetic.  However, those looking for a coherent account will find it lacking.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Tommy Chong pops up as an eccentric squatter who lives on the fringes of the family’s homestead.  He’s the cherry on top of a very messy sundae.

8 Responses to “Color Out of Space”

  1. Yeah this sounds perfectly ridiculous, I’ll have to fire it up this week. Plus, at the low cost of $4 for VOD instead of these pricy $20 “home premiere” offerings, I don’t think I’ll be too disappointed with the choice either way.

    I’m adapting myself, got a chance to watch a few streaming options which included Danny Boyle’s Yesterday. Come say hey if you get the chance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I am not feeling these $20 prices for recent releases. Ok, so I MIGHT pay that for the latest James Bond film. Otherwise, I’m going to stick to the classics which are so much cheaper.

      I debated whether I wanted to watch Ben Affleck’s latest The Way Back for $20 but ultimately said “no” to the inflated price so I chose a film from 1996 — The English Patient — because it was available to me on SHOWTIME ANYTIME for free. I had ** shocker ** never seen this film.

      I was very happy with my selection (and I didn’t pay a cent!). There are literally thousands of great titles to see for free. That’s what I’ll be watching from now on.


  2. Nicolas Cage was ridiculous. I love alien sci fi movies. It looked really good. Very disappointing. 2 stars


    • Lately, Nicolas Cage seems to only physically appear (not voice acting) in movies that are patently bizarre. Perfect companion piece to Mandy in 2018, wouldn’t you say?


  3. I liked this one a lot Mark. the story wasn’t sensible, but considering the meteor landing premise, i was expecting strange things to happen. And Nicolas Cage is a perfect reactionary character. Not a sense-making story, but it worked quite enough me. would give it 3 1/2 stars over 4.


  4. that’s right. we are fans of the Cage. his performance also made me curious about his movies over the last decade. maybe some might be worth a look.


    • So if you like movies where Nicolas Cage gives wild, crazy, over the top performances, check out these movies:

      Raising Arizona (1987), Vampire’s Kiss (1989), Wild at Heart (1990), Face/Off (1997), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) and Mandy (2018).


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